playback characteristics of slurs

Hello, with the introduction of the really rather wonderful version 3. I’m having another (previously abandoned) attempt at creating an expression map for Cinesamples Voxos Choir - a library I use virtually every day.

In this library, key-switches are used to select one of twelve user-configured sequences of syllables. This necessitates the need for key-switches that aren’t visible in the score - as they have no meaning or relevance to the singers who will eventually sing the music.

My current solution is to have additional hidden staves that carry the key-switch pitches.

However, I would prefer to have a mechanism consisting of user-created ‘playing techniques’ (KS1, KS2 etc.) that can then be referenced in an expression map to generate the correct key-switch. (These ‘playing-techniques’ have to be hidden, of course)

Having done all this - the problem I’m having is that slurs seem to have a playback effect which includes triggering some unknown key-switch which messes up the playback. (the most noticeable effect is that it cancels the transposition)

This ‘messing-up’ is contingent on there being user-created key-switch actions in the expression map. In a simpler version that only has a 2-octave transposition (the women are separated from the men on the keyboard by being mapped 2-octaves higher!) slurs don’t seem to have any effect in this regard (good!)

I have discovered that the ‘suppress playback’ feature works to suppress this unwanted playback characteristic - but it also suppresses the desired characteristic of lengthening the note so that they overlap. (this is how Voxos plays back a melisma on the same syllable.)

My question is, therefore is there a way to control how slurs affect playback?
Or, is there a resource anywhere that lists what slurs (and other symbols) actually do? If I knew this I could probably write into the expression map an ‘action’ that particular instrument would ignore.

At present, it’s difficult to work out what the ‘best practice’ might be.

best wishes, Ian

In theory, you should find that slurs are triggering the ‘Legato’ playing technique, if it’s mapped in your expression map.

Hi Daniel - yes, quite. The problem is, I haven’t added a ‘legato’ playing technique - it seems to be happening ‘behind the scenes’ Perhaps I should add a legato technique and redirect it to something harmless - like a unused key-switch!

Yes, that might be a good idea.

Well, it does something! In fact it seems to work, except that playback is muted after the slur until the next KS x playing technique flag. The action I created for ‘legato’ was to trigger a note that has no affect on the instrument (at least when I play that note on the keyboard) and as far as I can see on the instrument there has been no effect - and yet playback is muted!

Playback is muted because the ‘Suppress playback’ property is set for the slur?

No, I undid the ‘Suppress playback’ property as I was thinking that all should be fine if ‘legato’ triggers a key switch that doesn’t do anything for that instrument. I can only conclude that a slur is triggering some secret midi message in addition to the keyswitch (as well as extending the note length)

One option, I guess I have, is to suppress the playback of all slurs and manually overlap all the slurred notes. However, I’ve got a feeling it might be easier to stick with my additional hidden stave method!

Perhaps you could cook up a simple example project and attach it here so we can take a look and see what Dorico is doing? We don’t have the library you’re using, but that shouldn’t matter: if we set your expression map on another device we should still get the same MIDI events generated.

Will do, probably tomorrow now!
and thanks, Daniel.

Good morning, I’ve cooked up a sample project - but I can’t attach it because it’s 6.5 MB! It’s produced from scratch and is only 6 bars long with two instruments. not sure what I can do to make it smaller.

Thanks, Ian

Hi Ian.
Set the playback template to Silent, it should drastically reduce the size of the project. Zip it and you can attach it. Hope this helps!

Thanks for that suggestion, Marc. Unfortunately it made no difference, still 6.5 MB.

Hi Daniel,

I’ve attached a test project and the two expression maps I’ve made for Voxos.

(I’ve had to strip out the vsl ensemble/Voxos plug in in order to make the file small enough to post!)

The men and women have to have different maps only because the women are mapped 2 octaves higher.

All that is required is the ability to position a specific key switch at any point in the score. (This is in order to tigger a specific sequence of syllables - it’s has nothing to do with articulations)

The problem is that the slurs are triggering something that causes this instrument to freeze ( or mute the notes) after the slur until the next key switch.

In the expression maps I have added ‘legato’ with an action to trigger a key switch that should have (and does have when that note is played on the keyboard) no effect.

This problem only arrises with an expression map that has entries in the techniques and actions list - Slurs don’t seem it have this effect with a default EP, or one with only transpose and volume dynamic control values added.

Perhaps it might be useful to mention another problem I encountered - although I was able to work around it:

Having created my 12 ‘playing technique’ key switches (KS 1 through to KS 12) ‘KS 8’ would not show up in the EP’s list of available techniques. I worked round this by creating a further ‘articulation labeled KS 08 - which was willing to make an appearance. Oddly, in the list of Techniques and actions in the EP ‘KS 08’ is labeled as pt.user.ks_08 whereas the others are KS 1, KS 2 etc.

I noticed that when hovering over these ‘articulations’ (back in write mode) they all, except this naughty KS 8, displayed something like ‘pt.user.ks_1’. For some reason, though, KS 8 displays ‘natural’

Sorry it’s all so convoluted!

best wishes, Ian (458 KB)

I haven’t forgotten about this, Ian, but I need to devote some proper time to trying to figure it out, which I’ve not yet been able to find. Please bear with me.

Sorry that it’s taken me so long to come back around to this, Ian. I’ve been looking at it this morning and I have a couple of questions for you:

• In the ‘Voxos Men’ expression map, ‘Legato’ doesn’t have any defined actions, while in the ‘Voxos Women’ expression map, it does have a dummy keyswitch; is that intentional?
• Do you really intend ‘Legato’ to be mutually exclusive with the other four KSn playing techniques? So when you switch to ‘Legato’ you effectively want to return to ‘Natural’, then add ‘Legato’?

If the latter isn’t what you want (and I suspect it’s not), then I think you should remove ‘Legato’ from that mutual exclusion group, and consider defining ‘Legato+KS1’, ‘Legato+KS2’ combinations in your expression map, so that adding legato doesn’t have to remove the other prevailing technique.